Indian Premier League: Finch clinches it for Pune in win over Rajasthan

The Warriors logged their first win of the sixth edition despite a fighting knock from Rahul Dravid for the Royals.

File picture of Robin Uthappa from the the 2011 Pune Warriors side. Sajjad Hussain / AFP
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Toss Rajasthan, chose to bat
Rajasthan Dravid 54, Rahane 30; Rahul 2-16; Yuvraj 2-27
Pune Finch 64, Uthappa 32; Yuvraj 28 n.o, Faulkner 2-17
Man of the match Aaron Finch (Pune)

It has been an agonising wait, but Pune Warriors India finally dug deep enough to claim their first win in the Pepsi Indian Premier League 2013, sending Rajasthan Royals crashing to a seven-wicket loss at the Subrata Roy Sahara Stadium in Pune yesterday.

Asked to chase 146, Pune did so with considerable ease, with Aaron Finch (64) emerging as their big star.

Finch was a replacement for injured Australia compatriot Michael Clarke in the squad. He again got the nod yesterday only after Marlon Samuels was injured but set off quickly as he and Robin Uthappa started off with some violent hitting.

They handed Sreesanth a hammering, sending him for 28 runs in just two overs. In the 19 minutes their partnership lasted, they put up 58 off just 29 balls, providing Pune with exactly the sort of start they lacked in the earlier matches.

Uthappa, who scored 32 in 16 balls, walked back to a brilliant, one-handed catch by Rahul Dravid, the Rajasthan captain, at midwicket. Though the scoring rate dropped after that, Pune needed less than a-run-a-ball at that stage. With Ross Taylor for company, Finch merrily carried on with his strokeplay, chipping away at the small target.

Taylor (17) fell to Harmeet Singh when trying to clear the midwicket fence.

Finch eventually played on to James Faulkner, but with Yuvraj Singh making an unbeaten 28, the result was never in doubt.

Earlier, Dravid and Ajinkya Rahane gave Rajasthan, who missed Shane Watson due to an injury, a powerful start to their innings after Bhuvneshwar Kumar sent Kushal Perera back first ball.

Dravid seemed to do everything a Twenty20 batsman should, minus the slogs. There were the typical cover drives and wristy flicks; he was in his element while Rahane, at the other end, complemented him well.

Angelo Mathews, the Pune captain, tried rotating his bowlers, but Rajasthan's run-rate continued to hover around eight after five overs. Mathews eventually summoned his spinners, Rahul Sharma and Yuvraj, and it had the desired effect. The boundaries dried up and, eventually, the wickets started falling.

The 81-run second-wicket stand between Dravid and Rahane was broken when Rahane (30) fell to a stunning catch by Mathews at short cover. A jittery Stuart Binny did not last long and Dravid (54) followed suit two overs later, having completed his second half-century of the tournament.

Rajasthan eventually managed 145 for 5, but on the day, it was far from sufficient.

Manoj Narayan is a sub editor at Wisden India.

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